Cabrillo National Monument Park: Tide Pools, Monument, Light House

San Diego is a major tourist destination with some of the best beaches and attractions but as a San Diego native, rarely see any of the major tourist attractions. I would usually only visit our beautiful beaches and attractions when we I have guests in town but I finally decided to be tourist and see a little more of San Diego (away from what I’m familiar with). We headed south west to the Cabrillo National Monument Park in Point Loma where we walked along the coast at the tide pools, learned a little bit about the origins of San Diego at the Cabrillo Monument and went inside the Old Point Loma Light House.

Tide Pools

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I can’t believe I’ve never been to the Point Loma Tide Pools! I’ve talked to my cousin about checking out a few of the tide pools in San Diego but timing was never right. But this time, I didn’t even consider the timing and just went to the Point Loma Tide Pools. I wasn’t really going to the tide pools solely to see the sea life since there is so much more to see. As we drove through the morning fog and overcast, I was getting more and more excited. It didn’t feel like San Diego. It actually reminded me of being in Hawaii.

The Point Loma Tide Pools (also known as the Cabrillo Tide Pools) is part of the 1 mile Coastal Trail at Cabrillo National Monument).

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We parked the car in the small parking lot and made our way along the trail. There are bathroom facilities and an info center right at the parking lot. Rangers are available to answer any questions about the area and the animals.

I was getting so excited because it really reminded me of being at the Volcano Park in Hawaii. So why did I go all the way to Hawaii when I have something in my own hometown? (but Hawaii was worth it)

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We walked along the trail (but didn’t finish the full 1 mile trail), up a few flights of stairs, along a few pathways, and on coastal rocks. The coastal view was actually quite similar to the La Jolla coastline a little further up north (that’s the beach I would usually go to) but the seals are little harder to spot.

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I didn’t see any sea life in the tide pools during my visit, but I did see something rather unusual. The cliff was scattered with bird poop everywhere and what made it kind of creepy was that some of it was red. As we walked along, we spotted what appeared to be crawfish or something. The one we saw on the cliff were dead and had been eaten by the birds. And as we looked into the water, there were quite a few that appeared to be dead.

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This is actually one of my favorite pictures of the morning. There weren’t very many tuna crabs on the cliffs along the trail, this was one of the few I spotted and half covered by feathers.

My friend kept trying to find a tuna crab (we thought they were crawfish) that may still be alive, but we ended up finding even more dead along the tide pools and cliffs. I ended up describing the area what appears to be the aftermath of a tuna crab crawfish massacre.

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We actually went to another beach later in the day and found even more of these things on the beach. I found out that they are tuna crabs. More on that in a later post in my Ocean Beach post.

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I was glad we didn’t have any birds flying directly over us, but it was quite a site to see a big flock of birds just hanging out on the cliffs.wonder if there were more birds there then usual because of the tuna crabs.I ended up standing there just watching the birds. I Is that what bird watchers do?
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And as we headed back to the car, spent a little more time just staring at the coast line. The formations were quite beautiful. This is the only place in the Cabrillo National Monument park where you can bring a dog.

Cabrillo National Monument – the discovery of San Diego

150612c Cabrillo National Monument 32150612c Cabrillo National Monument 68From the Tide Pool, we headed to the Cabrillo National Monument. When we arrived, my phone started freaking out and told me I was in Mexico and that I may be charged for roaming. That’s a bit scary, though I knew for sure I was still in San Diego. I guess that’s how close we are to Mexico. (The good news is that if you’re a T-mobile user, you don’t need to worry because they just announce that they will not charge roaming fees in Mexico and Canada, we already have free international text and data.)

Before heading over to the monument, we went inside for a quick history lesson in the “Age of Exploration” exhibit. It’s a small exhibit but had just enough information for us to have a good overview of the importance of Cabrillo and the monument. Mr. Cabrillo discovered the San Diego bay in 1542 and continued his voyage along the west coast of the United States.

Then we headed into the visitors center and bookstore where you can get more information and do a little bit of souvenir shopping. Just outside of the visitors center and bookstore is a lookout, where you can see some amazing views of San Diego. Too bad the weather was not on our side. With the marine layer above, we couldn’t see anything. We just relied on the the signs that told us what we would see if the weather was nice and clear.

And finally we walked over to greet Mr.Cabrillo, I mean walked over to see the Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo statue which stands at this location just outside the visitors center and bookstore since 1966. It was originally located right next to the Old Light House since 1946 which was actually proposed to be taken down for Mr.Cabrillo.

The Old Light House

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photo credit to

The Cabrillo statue never replaced the Old Light house which still stands at its original location where it operated from 1855-1891(There has been a new light house build nearby doing its job). The Old Light house is only opened when their are volunteers available and lucky for us it was opened.

It is furnished with what the lighthouse would look like if it was still a working light house (or like any other house) in the 1880s period. There is a little living room and kitchen on the first floor and two more rooms upstairs. You can’t go inside the rooms upstair but you can see the rooms through the plexy glass (it reminds me of the haunted Wailie House in Old Town San Diego). This is where the Lighthouse keepers and their families lived.

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And of all things, I enjoyed looking into the little garden in the light house grounds. The “Kitchen Garden” didn’t have very many plants any more, but I did enjoy seeing a spot of color. There was one artichoke flower still in bloom! It was quite a highlight for me.

Going to the Cabrillo National Monument

I saw a few tour buses making their way to the Cabrillo National Monument on our way out (it’s definitely a tourist destination in San Diego). For those driving in, it’s a bit of a drive through Point Loma. There is a $5 fee/car and $3/person if you plan to bike or hike in (80% of the entrance fees stay in the park)


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